WISP Survey Results

This content was printed in Fierce Wireless

Worldwide Survey of Wireless ISPs Reveals Thriving Local Businesses

All demand for broadband connectivity is local: business and residential customers in a community need affordable reliable high speed broadband access. All over the world, Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) networks perform serious duty bringing connectivity to those communities enabling local and regional economies in the process. As an equipment provider, Cambium Networks conducts an annual vender neutral WISP Global Survey to learn more about the state of the market.

Because WISP networks are a flexible and powerful tool for delivering connectivity at a reasonable cost, the market is strong, and network operators remain positive. The 2017 survey included 509 responses from unique WISPs in 35 countries, providing insights about business, customers, operations and technology.

Some key takeaways and highlights from the data include:

  • End user demand for broadband remains strong – globally, some 66 percent of WISPs reported being optimistic about their business compared to previous years.
  • WISPs offer more than just wireless broadband – in addition to internet connectivity, 30 percent of WISPs offer voice services, 15 percent offer Managed Wi-Fi, 15 percent offer IT support, 14 percent offer video surveillance, and 8 percent offer IPTV services.
  • Most WISPs are small businesses, serving local areas – 52 percent of WISPs have five or fewer technical employees, and 75 percent have fewer than 10 technical employees. This places a priority on easy-to-install and highly reliable equipment that enables field technicians to focus on new installations and expanding network coverage.
  • Wi-Fi is a part of the total customer experience – and Wi-Fi connections are where the network is most vulnerable. Some 31 percent of WISPs report that 51 to 80 percent of trouble calls are caused by client equipment, and half of the WISPs report that the majority of customer support calls are for in-house routers or client devices unrelated to the outdoor wireless backhaul service provided by WISPs.
  • In-building Wi-Fi is popular – 96 percent of business and residential customers connect to an indoor router, and the majority of WISPs offer in-building Wi-Fi, positioning themselves as connectivity service providers. Overall, 58 percent of WISPs offer indoor access solutions, and 40 percent of customers supply their own indoor Wi-Fi Access Points.
  • Hybrid technology networks are the deployment of choice for WISPs – around the world, some 70 percent also use fiber technology in their network to provide backbone bandwidth for wireless distribution networks, and 8 percent use cable, while only 6 percent use DSL.
  • WISP marketing is high-touch – some 60 percent of WISP business growth comes via one-to-one communication, rather than mass marketing, and 80 percent of subscriber volume growth comes from new residential customers. Customer referrals are the most effective way to grow business, according to 38 percent of respondents, while social media comes in second at 20.5 percent, and low-cost advertising and social marketing are well suited to WISPs offering connectivity in local geographic areas.
  • Overall, WISP customers are pleased – in some rural areas, WISPs may be the only viable high-speed connectivity above 5 Megabits per second and the only available option for streaming video applications. Overall, customers seem satisfied with these services, with the largest amount of customer subscription cancellations (41 percent) coming only from customers who are moving to another location, rather than having any issues with the service provided by their WISP.
  • Financing and Spectrum Availability are key factors – Of all of the factors that affect their business, two stand out: financing to purchase transmission equipment and infrastructure, and spectrum availability. Cambium Networks is investing in the development of higher performance equipment at lower price points, while also investing in beamforming and Massive Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology to provide industry leading spectral efficiency to deliver the highest amount of bandwidth in the smallest amount of spectrum.

With strong subscriber growth and overall happy customers, the future for WISPs is positive and the market outlook is strong. Today’s WISPs can deliver service that rivals wired networks in terms of performance and can reach geographic areas where wired or fiber technology are simply not cost effective. Certainly, challenges for the market are noted in Cambium Networks’ survey results – including heavy competition in international markets and a shortage of available financing for expansion. But overall, the future remains bright for WISPs, network pioneers who are leading the charge to deliver unwired broadband connectivity to communities and businesses all over the world.



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